Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 6:58 PM
By Adam Sherman
For decades, mainstream, teenage, coming-of-age films have skewed exclusively toward the heterosexual crowd. No matter the race, no matter the gender, if romance came up with the main characters, it would always have the main character attracted to the opposite gender. Rarely, if ever, did we ever get a mainstream film about a gay or bisexual coming-of-age romance story. Which is rather unfair, since, as Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) puts it, “Everyone deserves a great love story.” The question is, could Love, Simon be that great love story?
The short answer… yes.
The long answer… absolutely.
Based off the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon focuses on the titular character during his final year of high school. While dealing with hiding his sexual orientation from his friends and family, . begin communicating with an anonymous fellow closeted classmate going by the username “Blue” When Simon gets blackmailed over said exchanges, he is forced to carefully balance his now out-of-whack social life while trying to figure out the identity of this mysterious figure he has found himself falling in love with.
Nearly everything about this film is well done and perfectly paced.
Nick Robinson does a fantastic job as Simon, managing to perfectly balance the expected “high school teenager falling in love for the first time” aspects of the character with the added baggage that comes with dealing with one’s own sexuality. He truly feels like the average guy you would know in high school.
Katherine Langford does great as well, coming off her star-making role as Hannah Baker in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. She really endears herself to the audience as Leah Burke, coming off as someone you would’ve loved to have in high school as a friend and/or more, and maintaining great chemistry with Robinson.
Alexandra Shipp, after a somewhat mixed reception as Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, also comes off as a highlight in the movie, having some good lines, and really standing out among the cast.
In fact, the cast overall manages to work extremely well together, with even the jerkier characters having somewhat sympathetic moments thanks to the ensemble’s talent.
The film itself could have easily come off as preachy in lesser hands, but the directing and writing instead make it into something akin to a John Hughes movie. Writers Issac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger bring their work from This Is Us to bare when it comes to the initial construction of this film, adapting what could have easily come off as well-meaning, but cheesy and preachy, and instead making it legitimately charming. This certainly isn’t hindered by director Greg Berlanti who, over the course of the last decade of mostly television work, manages to keep the story grounded and frames the entirety of the story by focusing on Simon being a teenager and letting that flow naturally with his coming out tale. It is a direction that is most certainly helped by the fact that Berlanti himself is gay, and thus has perspective that a non-homosexual director would likely lack.
Overall, Love, Simon is a celebration of life, love, family and finding happiness that will leave you walking out of the film grinning.
Everyone deserves to see this great love story, so go see this movie.
Love, Simon is distributed by 20th Century Fox and opens in theaters on March 16.